IN the wake of their first 2023 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League defeat they were handed by defending champions FC Platinum on Saturday, Highlanders gaffer Baltemer Brito has reckoned it was actually a surprise that Bosso were sitting on the apex of the league table.
Interestingly, the outspoken Portuguese coach underscored that it was FC Platinum who are expected to be on the top of the table and in the process giving praise to the miners’ camp who he believes have quality arsenal to do a better job.
Pure Platinum Play, who had gone for five consecutive games without posting a win, summoned all their capabilities and inflicted the Bulawayo giants their first defeat after having gone on an impressive run of 19 games without a loss this season.
On Saturday, a Peter Muduhwa’s own goal and a strike by Walter Musona in the second-half condemned Bosso to a 2-0 defeat.
It was also the first time the Bulawayo giants, who had only conceded four times this season, had to let in two goals in one game.
For Brito, it wasn’t a painful one.
“So this is our first defeat but we can’t forget what these boys did in the past games because no one expected Highlanders to be at the top of the league after 20 games.
“So we can’t forget what these boys did . . . (against FC Platinum) it was not one of their best days in the first half. We were a little bit lethargic, we were a bit without the heart to play and without the personality to have the ball.
“This can happen in football, these bad days, but what is important is that the bad day happened but we still remained on top. We will fight to make another “20 games” unbeaten. So we will start in the next game to try to have another run of 20 games unbeaten,” said Brito.
The platinum miners played with so much intent and kept the visitors on their toes the whole 90 minutes.
“FC Platinum came with the motivation to be the first team to beat us and every one of you guys know FC Platinum are not any normal team. They have really good players. What is not normal is them being not on top of the log.
“It should be expected for them to be on top rather than us being on top. What our boys are doing should be recognised by other people as something unbelievable,” said Brito.
Highlanders are targeting to end a prolonged title drought that has stretched from 2006 when they last lifted the coveted silverware.
They are currently on top of the table with 41 points after 20 matches. But they should be feeling the heat after second-placed Ngezi Platinum Stars reduced the gap between them to just two points.
Bosso’s defeat at the hands of FC Platinum allowed Ngezi to gain more ground following their inspired 3-0 win over Triangle.
FC Platinum on the other hand are not having the best of seasons as they sit in position six with 30 points. They have drawn six, lost six and won eight.
The Zvishavane miners have won the last four domestic league titles on the trot, to equal the record by giants Dynamos and Highlanders. FC Platinum will be hoping the big victory over Highlanders will see a turn in their fortunes this season. But Highlanders, under Brito, have fired strong warning shots.
The only time Highlanders came close to assembling a competitive side since winning the 2006 championship was during the Kelvin Kaindu era, when they twice lost the title to arch-rivals Dynamos on goal difference, in 2012 and 2013 seasons. In 2012, Bosso went on a 23-game unbeaten run under Kaindu but could still not win the league title. Their fans, however, feel 2023 could be their season as shown by the huge turnout for their games.